April 14, 2018
The Supreme Court in a commendable move has taken suo motu cognizance of contentious Kathua rape and murder case. In the heinous crime an 8 eight year old girl was brutally raped and murdered in the District of Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir. The intensity of the already tensed situation was aggravated when the lawyers of Jammu and Kashmir and Kathua Bar staged protests and prevented the Police from filing charge sheet against the accused in the case.
Taking a serious note of the aforesaid alarming situation, the Lawyers of the Supreme Court approached the Bench to take a judicial notice of the conduct of J&K Lawyers and urged the Court to issue notice to the Bar Association of Jammu & Kashmir High Court, Bar Council of J& K and Police Commissioner State of Jammu and Kashmir and direct him to submit a detailed report on the matter.
The Supreme Court has now taken a critical notice of the prevailing situation and expressed disconcert on the shocking conduct of J&K lawyers in Kathua rape case.
The Supreme Court expressed its deep anguish and remarked that the lawyers who tried to block the chargesheet and those who went on strike on Thursday to prevent justice from taking its course are a disgrace to the profession. They should not be allowed to continue practicing. Their conduct has brought disrepute not just to the Bar at Jammu & Kashmir but to the entire Indian Bar. If they are allowed to remain in the profession, it will be a stain that will be hard to clean. Their bar cards need to be taken from them. The Bar Council needs to initiate disciplinary proceedings at the earliest.
The Court also stated that is settled in law that a lawyer who appears for a victim or accused cannot be prevented by any Bar Association or group of lawyers, for it is the duty of a lawyer to appear in support of his client, once he accepts the brief. If a lawyer who is engaged, is obstructed from appearing in the court or if his client is deprived of being represented in the court when he is entitled to do so in a lawful manner, that affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice and interference with the administration of justice.
In view of the aforesaid, the Supreme Court in its order yesterday has issued notice to the Bar Council of India, the State Bar Council, Jammu & Kashmir, the High Court Bar Association at Jammu and the Kathua District Bar Association in the matter.
The Supreme Court in the case has directed the State of Jammu and Kashmir to file a detailed report in the matter as urgently as possible and to accord adequate protection to the Petitioner’s Counsel in the case.
Lawyers don’t have a right to strike- In the case, the Apex Court reiterated the legal position that lawyers do not have a right to strike. The Court referred to its judgment in the case of Ex-Captian Harish Uppal v Union of India, wherein the Supreme Court held that lawyers have no right to go on strike or give a call for boycott, not even on a token strike. The protest, if any is required, can only be by giving press statements, TV interviews, carrying out of Court premises banners and/or placards, wearing black or white or any colour arm bands, peaceful protest marches outside and away from Court premises, going on dharnas or relay fasts etc.
Words are less to express the heinous crime that led to the rape and murder of the innocent 8 year old girl. We hope that the Government formed to protect the interests of its citizens takes a harsh step against such miscreants who are making India a vulnerable place for children.
The Supreme Court’s order can be accessed here.
 (2003) 2 SCC 45